Racing in Victoria is at Flemington on Saturday, where the rail is in the true position and the track should be Good given the fine weather in the lead up to the meeting.
With Tim focusing on the Group 1 meetings at Morphettville and Doomben, Stewart Brown is back to cover the Victorian meeting this week.
Check out his preview and best bets below!
Best Bet: Race 2 - (2) Ocean Deep
Best Value: Race 7 - (13) Prism
The opening race on the card is for the 2yos over 1400m and looks a tricky affair with so many lightly raced runners. I have settled on the Tony McEvoy trained runner (3) The Pugilist who has been beaten in both his starts to date at Balaklava as a short-priced favourite but on each occasion has had excuses. He should be able to settle on the speed here and comes off a last start where he found trouble and got shuffled back before finishing strongly. (2) Independent Road looks the main danger off a slashing last start effort at Bendigo where he settled back and finished hard for 2nd, recording the fastest last 200m of the meeting. Flemington should suit and should horses be able to make ground down the outside then he comes right into it.
The mares line up here and I'm very keen on (2) Ocean Deep. She is racing most consistently this preparation and was a good winner at Caulfield over this distance last start. On that occasion she had to chase down a tearaway leader before fending off the swoopers. The form out of the race has been good with the 2nd horse winning at its next start and many others running well in their subsequent runs. Ocean Deep can settle in the first two or three here and it looks a nice race for her.
The speedsters line-up here for the days only straight race over 1000m. With the speed drawn in the outside two barriers I would expect them to come down the middle to outside of the track. I have settled on the James Cummings trained (2) Bandipur who was a winner over this track and distance last start. On that occasion he received nice cover just off the leaders before overhauling them and winning softly on the line. I expect him to receive a similar run here and it's hard to see him not being in the finish. Brad Rawiller replacing Craig Williams is some concern but Rawiller has started to get back into his groove after time off with injury. The main danger clearly looks to be (3) Miss Leonidas who is suited back to 1000m after being stretched out to 1200m last start. She can get control in front here and has had one run down the straight for a very respectable 3rd where she probably came down the wrong side of the track.
Tricky race for the 3yos here but I have settled on (3) Big Night Out despite needing luck at some stage after drawing barrier 1. Should that luck come then he looks extremely hard to hold out. He beat all bar Zoutori last start over this track and distance and that horse won again last week. The Lindsay Park trained (2) Seberate looks the main danger and has been a far more genuine horse this preparation since being gelded. He is coming off a last start 2nd in a stakes race in Adelaide where he was ridden far too passively to my eye. He should be able to get right on the speed here and be strong in the finish. If there was a small query it would be that he may want 1600m now.
Big field here but the winner looks easy to find with the promising (9) Begood Toya Mother making the step up to Saturday grade after three very impressive wins this campaign. The most recent of those was a 6-1/2 length romp at Sandown where he sat on a good speed and raced away from the opposition for a very soft win. The majority of his opposition here look to have reached their level and barring bad luck won't pose a huge threat. He is likely to start odds on. If there is to be an upset then (13) Eagle Ridge may be the horse to provide it as he has raced without luck in two of his last three starts with a win from the other run wedged in between. He ran as well as could be expected in an unsuitable race last start and comes back in class here.
Happy to take the punt on (1) Sure Knee here after her midfield effort in the Oaks in Adelaide last start over 2000m. I think back in distance to a mile is more suitable and her run before that over a mile she pushed Princess Jenni (who won the before mentioned race in Adelaide) with a decent margin back to 3rd. The negative is that she is likely to be near last in the run as she can be slowly away and will need horses to be able to run on down the middle of the track. Should she get those circumstances then she is good enough to win. (6) Tysonic is one that looks a good price after not getting much room at a crucial stage last start behind Princess Jenni and Sure Knee. She is drawn to get a nice run here and may be forgotten by the market with a month between runs. The favourite (2) Fidelia has an undeniable chance after a very impressive win at the track last start. Just feel she is short enough in the market for a horse that is a query at 1600m and comes through inferior form lines.
Very open race and I was originally keen on Nordic Symphony, who has since been scratched. I also thought Prism was the best roughie in the race, but he’s also scratched, which leaves me with (6) Wham on top. He ran 2nd to the very smart Tarwin over the mile at Caulfield last start. On that occasion he was held up around the home turn allowing the winner to get a break on him before finishing off strongly in the fastest last 400 and 200 of the race. He’ll settle back in the field and will need things to go his way, but he’s at an each way price and looks a good bet.
Another open race for punters to sort out here and made a bit trickier by the lack of speed on paper. I was happy to go with the much maligned Fastnet Tempest here but he's been scratched, leaving me with (9) One More Try on top from the Matt Cumani stable. She is first up here and may be short of her best distance but trialled well recently at Cranbourne and looks to have plenty of upside unlike many of her opponents here. Plenty of chances in a competitive race.
The final event on the program is for the middle-distance horses over the 2000m. I'm happy to play two horses here beginning with (3) Pacodali from the Maher & Eustace stable. He was only second up last start when caught wide without cover in a similar race to this. He loomed to win in the straight before just dying on his run late. He should derive plenty of benefit from that run and be near spot on for this race. He is drawn to receive a soft run just behind the leaders and is unbeaten over the Flemington 2000m. (6) Second Bullet is the other and he comes off a last start 4th at this track over 1700m. On that occasion he beat home subsequent winner and race favourite here in Mantastic. I think the rise to 2000m will be more to the advantage of Second Bullet and he has been kept on the fresh side for this, a scenario he performs well in.
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